[D.C. Council: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the subs, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is on the table. Game No. 61, Washington Wizards vs. Charlotte Bobcats; contributors: Dan Diamond and Sean Fagan from the Phone Booth with John Converse Townsend from behind the television screen.]
More than one way to skin a Bobcat…
Washington Wizards 107 vs Charlotte Bobcats 84
MVP: Nene. 19 points (helped by a game-high 11 free throw attempts, he made seven), eight rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and a plus-26 plus/minus.
Stat of the Game: The Wizards made more free throws (24) than the Bobcats attempted (23).
To poorly paraphrase Chinese philosophers: What happens when the stoppable force (Washington’s offense, ranked last in the league by Offensive Rating) meets the movable object (Charlotte’s defense, ranked last in the league by Defensive Rating)?
Apparently, a Wizards blowout—but it wasn’t as simple as the 17-point win looked. The teams basically played each other even during the first quarter and across the second half.
Instead, the game was decided in the second quarter, as the Wizards outscored the Bobcats by 14. And that’s when Nene went to work.
In a six-minute span—which began when the Brazilian big man found Trevor Ariza for a cutting dunk, ended when he slung it to A.J. Price for a short jumper, and featured 10 points from Nene in between—the Wizards swelled their lead from a four-point edge to a 21-point cushion.
Nene’s the Wizards’ most-skilled player and, on nights when he’s facing Bobcats backups like Byron Mullens, it shines through more than ever.
Rating five Wizards starters & two key subs on a three-star scale.
After a Friday night to forget, John Wall made the shots that he missed by the bushel. Wall also had two amazing chase down blocks that energized an otherwise dead Wizards crowd. What will not be discussed is that Wall’s three turnovers could have been 10 if not for the semi-sure hands of Nene and Okafor. Wall basically threw the ball around like a loaded grenade, and large parts of the game resembled an insane pinball game with the ball bouncing out of the hands of two players before settling into the hands of a Wizards player. Was it the night a franchise player should have? No. But it was a decent night for an above average PG, which you will take as they come. Wall finished with 13 points on 11 shots and six assists to three turnovers.
With 23 minutes of game time on Saturday, Temple’s gotten almost as many minutes in the NBA this season (506) as he did in his first three years of playing professional basketball combined (564). But the more Temple’s on the floor, the more it’s obvious that he’s no more than a fourth guard—at best—until he can make an open basket. As TAI’s Adam McGinnis tweeted before the game, Temple’s shot chart this year is disastrous, and his 1-for-4 night was more of the same. On the positive side, Temple generally made the right pass, racking up four assists, and his length caused some problems for Charlotte on the perimeter.
Webster was making shots from all over the court in the first half—the hot-shooting forward scored 14 points on just six attempts and made his first four 3s. Webster finished the game with 20 points (7-for-13 from the field), four rebounds, two assists, one steal, and made life difficult for both Ben Gordon and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who made a combined five of 14 attempts from the field.
Nene was tired after the game. We know this because the first words out of his mouth were, “I have to be honest, I am tired, man.” His fatigue was in large part due to the fact that the Wizards leaned on him for 90 percent of the game. Nene dominated the first half, erasing Bismack Biyombo and getting whatever he wanted on offense. More confusing was how Randy Wittman leaned on him for large portions of the fourth quarter with the Wizards still up by 18. Maybe this was due to the two off days, but the heavy workload seems to be taking his toll on the oft-injured bigman who had literally every extremity encased in ice after the game. Nene finished with 26 points on 12 shots, eight rebounds, and four assists.
There was only one time all night when the Bobcats had momentum and the Wizards didn’t: when Okafor lost the tip to Bismack Biyombo. But the Bobcats promptly missed a shot, Martell Webster scored for the Wizards, and Washington never trailed again. That was emblematic of Okafor’s night—he didn’t do very much (six points on 2-of-7 shooting, 10 rebounds), but he didn’t hurt the team, either. And after the game, Bobcats Coach Mike Dunlap credited Okafor as the biggest beneficiary of John Wall’s return—and he might be onto something. In the 33 games without Wall, Emeka was averaging 7.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game; in the 27 games since, Okafor’s upped that to 11.4 points and 11.2 rebounds.
Ariza scored 17 of his season-high 26 points in the second half, sinking three of his five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, where he led all players with 14 points. He even scored the Wizards’ 100th point of the game with a Michael Jordan-like turnaround fadeaway on the right wing. Defensively, he was matched up against Gerald Henderson, who made a living at the free throw line (7-8 FT), but came up a little short against the bigger, quicker Ariza (33% FG).
Sometimes the stats will lie if you read the box score. You see a 4-for-7 night from Seraphin along with two offensive boards, and you think that’s a pretty good night. However, Seraphin continues to be a complete black hole on offense, demonstrating a selfishness that would make Jordan Crawford blush. After establishing position and receiving the ball, Seraphin passed out exactly once, and the ball proceeded to sail four feet over the head of Trevor Ariza. For a team that continues to commit to ball movement, even when down by large margins, Seraphin’s ball stopping tendencies are not only infuriating, but one has to wonder why he hasn’t ended up in the same doghouse as the other young Wizards. Perhaps Wittman needs to build another floor.
Randy Wittman and the rest of the Wizards developed a collective case of amnesia about Friday’s loss to the Nets—both he and other players joked about there not being a game on that particular night and questioned its existence. Wittman stated that he wouldn’t even look at that game, and that the matchup against the Bobcats would be much more telling. I hate to disagree after a winning effort, but the I’m not sure what lessons can be gleaned from beating up on the worst team in the league and making strange lineup decisions throughout. Perhaps, its better if the Wizards shred the video of both games and start fresh on Tuesday.